Journal of Child and Adolescent Mental Health

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Correlates of heavy alcohol consumption at Rhodes University

Charles Young, Vivian de Klerk


Objective: To establish the extent to which students typically overestimate normative drinking and to determine whether these estimates are uniquely implicated in alcohol consumption over and above the role of the various demographic and family variables.
Method: An online survey was used to obtain a sample of 2 177 students who completed the AUDIT questionnaire along with other items, including three adapted from the AUDIT asking respondents to estimate the descriptive drinking norms of their typical same-sex student. A hierarchical regression analysis was performed to determine the relative contributions of these variables towards individual student’s own consumption scores. Three blocks of variables were entered in temporal sequence, starting with demographic variables, then family variables, followed by the normative estimates.
Results: Most students overestimate how frequently their same-sex peers go drinking and how much alcohol they consume on these drinking occasions and how often they consume six or more drinks on one occasion. These normative estimates account for a significant portion of the variance over and above that accounted for by the demographic and family variables.
Conclusions: The university should attempt to correct inflated normative estimates of how many drinks a typical same-sex peer has on a typical day when drinking.

Journal of Child & Adolescent Mental Health 2012, 24(1): 37–44
AJOL African Journals Online